Col. Isiah M. Harper, Jr. Retires from the U.S. Army after 30 Years
Col. Isiah M. Harper, Jr. retired from the U.S. Army after 30 years of dedicated service at an official retirement ceremony, officiated by Maj. Gen. James K. Gilman, commanding general of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command and Fort Detrick, at the CPT Jennifer J. Shafer Odom Fitness Center May 20.
Harper began his Army career in 1981 as the Chief of Ambulatory Pharmacy and the Chief of Pharmacy Support at Darnell Army Community in Fort Hood, Texas. In his 30-year career, Harper has served in virtually every pharmacy position in various locations around the world, from Seoul, Korea to Fort Detrick, Md.
"Relatives and friends who sacrificed their lives during the Vietnam War inspired me to join the Army," said Harper. "They didn't receive a parade when they returned. They will always be my heroes."
During the retirement ceremony, Harper paid tribute to the five young men whose sacrifices while serving in Vietnam inspired him to join the Army. Servicemembers serving during Vietnam did not receive the recognition due to them and were often mistreated upon their return. Due to their treatment, Harper promised himself that he would make his place in the military.
Joining the South Carolina State ROTC program changed Harpers opinion of the military.
"After understanding more of the dynamics of the Army, I accepted a scholarship," said Harper. "Thirty years later, here I am."
Gilman praised Harper's career and his gift for working with people throughout his career, which was evident in the number of people in attendance at the ceremony. More than 300 people were in attendance.
"Everything I have done in the military has never been about me," said Harper. "It has been about someone else. I love taking care of people. I love working with people."
Harper was presented with a three tables worth of awards and gifts. Harper received the Legion of Merit Medal; The Presidential 30 Year Letter; the 3-Star Letter and the 30 Year Medallion from the U.S. Army Surgeon General, Lt. Gen. Eric Schoomaker; the MRMC Commanding General Note and Coin; and the U.S. Flag flown over the U.S. Capital and over Fort Detrick, Frederick Scott Key Grave. Additionally, Harper received a proclamation from the Mayor of North Charleston, S.C., R. Keith Summey, declaring the 20th day of May 2011 to be Col. Isiah "Ike" Harper Day.
Now that he is retired, Harper plans to become self-employed so that he can work with our Warriors and mentor children.
"I would like to accomplish my 25 year old dream of developing a youth mentorship, leadership institution," said Harper. "America's future exists with our children."